Sometimes the obvious is so obvious, it goes unnoticed. Funny, for someone who has studied poetry, has a degree in poetry, has poets like Whitman at her fingertips, "That you are here—that life exists and identity, / That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse." And what is poetry, after all, than pointing out the obvious and saying, look closer--see what you might have missed and see how this perspective could change your life?
But we're all our own worst enemies, aren't we? And every one of us could probably benefit from reading a bit more poetry--I know I could. I know I've fallen off the poetry wagon hard, only now noticing I have no ride. And, you know, it's okay. It's okay to forget these things, to fall into rote, into rhythm, because rediscovery is almost as good as discovery, and remembering where you've been is almost as good as discovering where you are.
I don't think we get to a point when we're "too old" to say yes when we mean no. I think we were born too old for it.
I, for one, was shocked when I realized that, for all my rebellious, anti-authority tendencies, I was a person who said 'yes' against my better judgment, rather then hurt someone. That's not a habit leading to good, honest, and long-standing relationships. And while that hard 'no' is still difficult to articulate--for all of us--compromising yourself in your soul is far harder and will wear you out far more quickly than you realize.
Post-Independence Day seems as good a time as any to declare ourselves free from people-pleasing, free from worrying about others' feelings more than our own (which doesn't mean we don't have to be kind and considerate, just that, if we have to live with our decisions, they'd better be ones that put us right in our soul), free to say no when we mean no, and free never, ever to feel guilty about it before, during, or afterward.
We are problem-solvers by nature--every single one of us. It's a skill we've very obviously inherited, considering we're here at all. All it takes, and maybe this is the hard bit, is a few moments of calm, a few moments of silence, and a few moments of clear sight. Is it impossible to achieve all three simultaneously? Perhaps, especially the latter, but like everything else, all it takes is a bit of patience and a bit of practice.
For now, just tell yourself this and believe it: there is no situation from which you cannot emerge. Undamaged? Whole? Those labels are up for debate. But in my book, if you emerge? You emerge keeping your whole self, everything that matters, and that, petals, is nothing short of a triumph.
What have you long left dormant that might be calling for a return? What gifts have you forgotten about, stashed in a corner of your very different life, that might be unearthed, dusted off, and reopened?
I think, as we get older, we forget that we don't exist in one dimension, that we have more than one expression, one passion, one life-long interest, one calling. When we are young, we experiment with everything--fashion, music, personality, hobbies, hairstyles. That's the gift (and the work) of youth.
But we don't have to remain the shape we've grown into. We can expand our boundaries to take on any shape we like, changing daily if it pleases us. We've forgotten that we were born with the permission to evolve, to improvise, to experiment, to return. We were born with the freedom to dictate not only who we will become, but who we will be at any given moment.
Maybe we try to understand too much. Heck, maybe we *try* too much, full stop. This is, after all, the idea behind meditation, is it not? Simply to sit and let the universe do what it's going to do, not with our engagement, but with our observation, our paying witness?
I've never been one for organized activities, which is perhaps why I cannot for the life of me maintain a meditation practice. But I do love taking a spontaneous moment to sit and stare at nothing, to watch the world come about and move around me--and you know, when you allow that space of nothingness, you awaken to the fact that, moment by moment, there is infinite variety and nothing ever repeats itself.
How can we not believe in possibility when it's proved to us again and again, if we could find the generosity of spirit to do nothing but observe for minutes at a time?
Pattern is not the same as routine--I just want to put that out there for all my Type-A brothers and sisters who love a good, steady, reliable, comfortable routine, amen and hallelujah. No, patterns are altogether different creatures. While routine is a conscious choice, a lifestyle choice over which we have control, patterns are habits we fall into, universal maps of criteria that we seem, more often than not, doomed to repeat, consciously or subconsciously. A good therapist would probably call it self-sabotage.
Too, more often than not, we're unaware of them or aware of them only after the fact--after we realize we're in the *same* relationship *again,* or that we snapped at our spouse/partner/loved one *again* even though we told ourselves we wouldn't. Or we ate the cake, smoked the cigarette, drank the beer and made a fool of ourselves *again.* It's that dreaded "again" that's our first clue, as in, "I can't believe I did that AGAIN."